Void Deck 2019 (feat. Samuel)
Void Deck started for me, quite possibly, before many others involved in this production. As treasurer for the company, I am also the producer of each of our shows, and so that saw me running around in the early days finding suitable venues for us to present Void Deck. We visited places like Esplanade, Aliwal – we finally settled on the latter, as those who came to watch us would know.
From there, I would draw up the budget in an Excel sheet, as I attempted to project revenues, expenditures, and whether we would survive. I would knock on the doors of boardrooms and type up grant applications, in complete uncertainty of whether this production would happen. Those were really days of absolute nothing – we started from an initial Kickstarter donation of $500, and we worked entirely from that at the beginning. It was absolutely terrifying as a finance person to literally have our bank account at $7 at one point.
But as time went by, we got support from NYC and NAC, and that provided much relief. Things started picking up, and Void Deck wasn’t just an idea anymore. We opened signups, we staffed the production, and before we knew it we were starting ticket sales, moving into the Aliwal studio #02-04, and rehearsals were in full swing.
Thank You For The Music
I doubled up as a song IC (we call it “vocal director” these days). As a part of a team of four, we allocated songs amongst ourselves, which we would then create musical arrangements and stage choreography for, putting twists on musical theatre or pop numbers as they were traditionally understood. From Kavya’s beautifully arranged pop medley to Marc’s high-octane choreography of the savage “Good For You” and Tara’s great comic timing in “What is This Feeling”, we each took our own styles and perspectives on well-established numbers and moulded them into our visions.
I’m a big fan of those kinds of integrated musical numbers with lots of action and dialogue tied together with an onward-moving musical theme (Sondheim’s “Little Things You Do Together” is beautiful) – and so, as song IC, I decided to do something just like that. I did this with “Feel it Still” by Portugal. The Man – which was fun because I had never worked to dramatize a non-musical song. I remember the moment that Heng Yee suggested that song at a meeting at a Bugis CBTL – she played it for us and the staging was already coalescing in my mind. I would pull vignettes of those little Singaporean acts of rebellion together, threaded by the dark, underlying pulse of “Feel it Still”. A dark theatre, and a dark bass line that fills the space.
Things took a fun turn though – when the devised script emerged, Izzul’s and Aqil’s imagination of these acts of rebellion turned out to be more hilarious than truly rebellious. I loved it. It was an ode to breaking rules that weren’t really enforced, to pushing boundaries that made us feel wild but still adorably innocent.
I loved the action. I loved how every show, Adria would get on a bike for real and ride into the audience, immediately inciting simultaneous disbelief and horror and excitement (in particular, house right audiences, who sat in the direct path of Adria’s crash).
But I think as we got closer and closer to the show, it was just being with a group of people who loved what they were doing that really got me. It was doing a really on-point “Say Something” with my quartet and everyone just looking really satisfied that we nailed it; it was rehearsing a really horrid version of “Say Something” and incurring the wrath of Hirzi in the next studio (this actually happened y’all). It was absolutely running out of space in #02-04 and rehearsing in the courtyard and blocking the path of Munah (this also actually happened). It was collapsing from doing one Don’t Stop Believing in the early days, but managing to pull off many in a row since then. It was sharing this with an unfamiliar audience and sensing them warm up to the show. Hearing that gasp every night as we stood, as a Company of Void Deck (all of us, musicians, performers, publicity people, sets people, lights and sounds, managers), as that first chord of Seasons of Love played at the end of the show.
That made this such a magical experience. From those Excel sheets grew a devised piece, and eventually a community of individuals who sang their hearts out – and that motivates me so much even to this day.